Research

Uptake of antenatal care in high HIV-prevalence settings: Results from three population-based surveys in South Africa

D F Nsibande, A Goga, R Laubscher, C Lombard, M Cheyip, D Jackson, A Larsen, M Mogashoa, T-H Dinh, N K Ngandu

Abstract


Background. Despite substantial progress in reducing pregnancy-related preventable morbidity and mortality, these remain unacceptably high in developing countries. In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) revised recommendations for antenatal care (ANC) from a 4-visit model to a minimum of 8 ANC contacts to reduce perinatal mortality further and improve women’s experience of care. The guidelines also recommend that the first ANC visit (ANC-1) should occur during the first trimester.

Objectives. To describe the uptake of routine ANC and its associated factors in South Africa (SA) prior to the 2016 WHO recommendations, when the country recommended 4 ANC visits, to bring to light potential challenges in achieving the current recommendations.

Methods. Secondary data analyses were performed from 3 facility-based, cross-sectional national surveys, conducted to measure 6-week mother-to-child transmission of HIV and coverage of related interventions in SA. These surveys recruited mother-infant pairs attending selected public primary healthcare facilities for their infants’ 6-week immunisation in 2010, 2011 -2012 and 2012 -2013. Quantitative questionnaires were used to gather sociodemographic and antenatal-to-peripartum information from Road to Health cards and maternal recall. The inclusion criteria for this secondary assessment were at least 1 ANC visit, the primary outcome being uptake of ≥4 ANC visits. A multivariable logistic regression model was used to: (i) identify maternal factors associated with ANC visits; and (ii) establish whether receiving selected ANC activities was associated with frequency or timing of ANC-1.

Results. Of the 9 470, 9 646 and 8 763 women who attended at least 1 ANC visit, only 47.5% (95% confidence interval (CI) 45.4 -49.6), 55.6% (95% CI 53.2 -58.0) and 56.7% (95% CI 54.3 -59.1) adhered to ≥4 ANC visits, while 36.0% (95% CI 34.5 -37.5), 43.5% (95% CI 42.0 -45.1) and 50.8% (95% CI 49.3 -52.2) attended ANC-1 early (before 20 weeks’ gestation) in 2010, 2011 -2012 and 2012 -2013, respectively. Multiparity and lower socioeconomic status were significantly associated with non-adherence to the 4-visit ANC recommendation, while a later survey year, higher education, being married, >19 years old, HIV-positive, planned pregnancy and knowing how HIV is transmitted vertically were strongly related to ≥4 ANC visits. The number of women who received selected ANC activities increased significantly with survey year and ≥4 ANC visits, but was not associated with timing of ANC-1.

Conclusions. Despite increases in the uptake of ≥4 ANC visits and early ANC-1 rates between 2010 and 2013, these practices remain suboptimal. Adhering to ≥4 ANC visits improved coverage of selected ANC activities, implying that strengthening efforts to increase the uptake of ANC from at least 4 to 8, could improve overall outcomes.


Authors' affiliations

D F Nsibande, Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa

A Goga, Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town; and Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

R Laubscher, Biostatistics Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa

C Lombard, Biostatistics Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town; and School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

M Cheyip, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pretoria, South Africa

D Jackson, School of Public Health, Faculty of Community and Health, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa; and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, New York, USA

A Larsen, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pretoria, South Africa

M Mogashoa, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pretoria, South Africa

T-H Dinh, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia, USA

N K Ngandu, Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa

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Keywords

Antenatal care; Uptake; Pregnancy

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2020;110(7):671-677. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2020.v110i7.14325

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-07-07
Date published: 2020-07-07

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